College Advice Blog

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Oct 12, 2010

Avoiding All-Nighters


College and all-nighters go hand in hand. Depending on your school and the program you've selected, your deadlines will vary. But, college for most of us means writing essays, completing problem sets, and cramming for the big tests each semester.

When we face a big hurdle it's easy to procrastinate. Procrastinating may have worked in high school, and we may think we're good at it, even when it produces below average results. It's annoying and stressful thinking about a looming test, and with the everyday distractions of college there's always something more pleasant to do than study.

So we find ourselves building up with stress halfway into a semester, deadlines accumulating, and tests approaching. We haven't scratched the surface of preparation except for scribbling a few notes on the historical figure who invented the “specialization of labor” back in 1776. Fat chance that'll be on the test.

Instead of waiting until this breaking point to crack open your books and cramming your way though an all-nighter, why not take a more casual, apprehensive approach? One week before the first test in one of your classes, start your studying. It has to be exactly one week to keep things consistent. Look at everything, from lecture notes, to the textbooks, to the online material. Use this week to leisurely scan all the material, filling the gaps in your knowledge.

It's enjoyable and actually educating having a lot more time to learn material. You can ponder why the subject, say business management, has developed the way it has, and incorporate some of your own ideas. This will help you write freely on a short-answer test question. We all know you don't learn much memorizing ferociously at 3AM with little time to spare. After you get through your first test, you'll know which material was worthwhile to study, and can narrow it down for the next one.

Are there those kids in your group that rarely stress, always joke about tests, go out a lot, and pull off good grades? Are they really annoying? The one-week technique is one way to overcome them. It won't work perfectly, but tailor it to your own learning needs and you'll be slicing your stress levels in half before you know it, and getting consistently better grades.

-About the Author-
Greg is currently on the road with the up and coming hip-hop group and co-writing duo of B.o.B's "Airplanes" KINETICS & ONE LOVE, documenting their East-Coast college tour. He studied Economics and Anthropology at Cornell, finishing in 2010. See more of his work @
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